Child welfare in the U.S. is frequently characterized by internal contradictions; caught between a narrow definition of welfare as protection from immediate threat of serious physical harm, and a more expansive consideration of wellbeing more generally. This project examines the functioning of New York City’s child welfare system through the professionals within it. It emphasizes the spatialized nature of the divisions that exist along lines of race and poverty, as families reliant on public infrastructure in public spaces are more far more vulnerable to surveillance and reporting. The study attempts to use ethnographic interviews to connect a parents’ typical experience of the system as unpredictable and precarious, with the structure of the jobs of those working within ACS, and the variable and unregulated nature of their processes of professionalization. Lastly, field observations are used to analyze the courtroom as a space through which governance of families is produced.